Ask Dr. Whiteman: Can Gynecomastia be Prevented or Treated?

Dealing with the challenges of gynecomastia, a common condition that causes enlarged breasts in men, can be very difficult for men of all ages. Although gynecomastia does not present any serious medical risk to those afflicted with it, the emotional and psychological burdens can be overwhelming. This is why I have noticed a large influx of men seeking relief from gynecomastia over the last decade. I receive a lot of questions from patients about what can be done to prevent and/or treat gynecomastia, so I have taken some time to answer a few of the more common questions to help provide some clarity:

preventing-gynecomastiaQuestion #1: Is there anything men can do to prevent gynecomastia before it occurs?
Every guy is different, but the cause for developing gynecomastia is typically not something that is within a patient’s control. For instance, the most common cause of enlarged breast growth in men is a natural hormone imbalance. Gynecomastia can also occur as a result of reactions to certain medical conditions like liver or kidney failure, tumors and hyperthyroidism, or side effects to medications or medical treatments including some blood pressure or heart disease medicines, as well as chemotherapy. However, I recommend that guys maintain a healthy, balanced diet and avoid recreational drug use as weight gain, malnutrition, and drug abuse can also sometimes lead to gynecomastia.

Question #2: How young is too young to undergo male breast reduction surgery?
While some degree of breast enlargement is normal for newborns and boys going through puberty, gynecomastia can persist even after puberty. According to data collected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), between 50% and 60% of adolescent males in the US suffer from gynecomastia. In many cases the breasts will flatten out as you enter your 20’s, but this isn’t always the case, and sometimes male breast reduction surgery is required. I typically advise adolescent patients and their parents to wait until they have gone through puberty before deciding on surgery.

Question #3: Can gynecomastia be effectively treated with exercise or medication?
Unfortunately not. Gynecomastia is the result of excess glandular tissue in the male breast, not excess fat. Meaning exercise (including exercises specifically intended to tone the chest) will not be able to treat gynecomastia. Additionally, to my knowledge there are no known approved medicinal treatments for gynecomastia. No exercise or medication will be able reduce the amount of breast tissue. This means that male breast reduction surgery is the only way to truly reduce the effects of gynecomastia.

Nobody should have to go through life feeling embarrassed or unsatisfied with their body. If you have any questions about gynecomastia and male breast reduction, contact me, Dr. David Whiteman to set up a complimentary plastic surgery consultation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for more cosmetic surgery tips, news, photos, and more.

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